While the majority of the ASU men’s and women’s track & field team takes the week off before the Sun Angel Track Classic begins April 10, coach Greg Kraft reflected on the first two outdoor meets and the training going into the marquee home meet.
During the indoor season, the track team does practice outdoors at Sun Angel Stadium, mainly due to the fact that there is no need for an indoor facility in Tempe.
Kraft has been the coach of the track team at ASU since 1996, and he clearly enjoys the benefit of ideal training weather.
“We’re very fortunate to have such wonderful weather here in the spring,” Kraft said. “So we’re able to get a lot of work in during our first two meets.”
Kraft also seemed pleased with his team’s versatility during those first two meets as the Sun Devils were able to “run some different combinations in the relays, have some people run over distance and under distance.”
The team will be sending some of the distance runners to Palo Alto, Calif., for the Stanford Invitational, but Kraft seemed to look more forward to the evaluation of the other athletes during their week off.
“We’re really able to get a lot of work in,” Kraft said. “So now it allows us to kind of go back and continue to do that and to evaluate our first two meets.”
It will be a quick turnaround for the team after the Sun Angel Track Classic, as the team will travel to Walnut, Calif., for the Mt. SAC Relays just five days after the home meet.
“It’s just one of those things I always tell the kids. You don’t play track, you compete,” Kraft said. “So you really have to have a certain mindset, so really what we go through through the fall, winter and spring is just being mentally tough.”
Competing in two significant meets in that short period of time can also be physically taxing but dealing with pain is just another part of competing in track and field.
“For the most part our sport is about dealing with discomfort, as strange as it sounds,” Kraft said.
In the first rankings of the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association released last week, the men were ranked 22nd with the women ranked 21st. Kraft didn’t seem too interested in the rankings.
“It’s not coaches’ speak; I really haven’t looked,” Kraft said. “You can feel slighted if the rankings are low, it’s just someone trying to put their best guess on it. That’s why you run the meets.”
Not surprisingly, the only important things for Kraft seems to be the Pac-12 meet and then the NCAA meet after that.
“Our evaluation of whether the season was a success isn’t really on how fast you run or how far you jump or throw; it’s really based on how the team does at the Pac-12 meet and the NCAA meet,” Kraft said. “When we recruit student athletes here, you talk to them first about graduation and then you talk to them about winning championships.”
In Kraft’s mind there are only two kinds of championships.
“If it doesn’t say Pac-12 or the NCAA then it’s, in our mind, not a championship,” Kraft said.
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